Column: Roger's Soapbox

The Dawn of De-Evolution

By: | April 7, 2014

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected].

You’re almost certainly familiar with the illustration known as the “Ascent of Man.” It shows, from left to right, the stages of man’s development from monkey to homo erectus, walking tall and proud.

It took a million years for this development to occur, and now, rather excitingly, we are about to add a new character to the right of homo erectus. The new figure has no name as yet, but Cell Phone Man, or homo stupidus, essentially sums it up. Because of our persistent use of portable phones, mankind is now developing a hunched back. By “our” use, I mean your use; I don’t have a portable telephone, since I am neither the Queen of England nor a brain surgeon.

In this regard, it’s not that I have a hunch, either personally or about mankind. The matter was reported in the Sunday Telegraph, an English newspaper. “A study … confirmed that many of us are visibly hunched because we are examining texts and other social media,” the newspaper reported. “Our heads are dropped down, our spines out of alignment, and we blunder through streets impervious to the dangers of lampposts and cars.”

It’s no small achievement to have set mankind back to its Neanderthal stage so that people may blog about what they had for breakfast.

“On occasion, it can strike one very sharply just what these little devices have done to us,” the newspaper said.

“For centuries, people strolled around looking at the sky, the windswept trees, the varied faces of passing strangers.”

The new method of walking while texting is known as the Zombie Walk. The newspaper added that “natural selection will play its part, as those who walk and text fall prey to all manner of untimely disasters, from falling scaffolding to unseen potholes, the modern equivalent of a stampeding mammoth.”

Late last year, a Taiwanese tourist walked straight off a pier in Melbourne while checking her Facebook page. Unable to swim, she managed to float and hang onto her phone, thus giving herself a chance to walk under a bus the next time her cousin blogs about having indigestion.

Where does this wave of untimely disasters leave insurance companies? Life insurers must be gnashing their teeth as idiots walk into trees or fall off tall buildings in the name of communication. The risk of death by telephone was negligible until recently; now, an epidemic brews.

On top of that, whole generations will need spinal operations before they’re 40, making life merry hell for the health insurers.

If I sound holier than thou, it’s because I am. The portable phone is the most spectacularly unnecessary personal item since the hula hoop. It is destroying conversation, reducing attention spans, encouraging the vilest rudeness and now reshaping our bodies and utility as human beings.

A million years of human progress wiped out by the iPhone.

The portable phone is rewriting mortality tables and inflating crime. Stealing someone’s phone is the new breaking and entering. Fittingly, those who steal phones will end up with bad backs and the inability to sit up straight. Serves them right.

Owning a cell phone is life, Jim, but not as we know it.

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